Riverbend headliners The Flaming Lips write songs with titles like "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell," and their shows include seizure-inducing lasers and enough confetti to make you think you've been sucked into a snow globe.
The Lips are a quintessential festival band, but for many, seeing them tonight at Riverbend, which has built its reputation presenting primarily classic rock and country, will be unlike anything they've ever seen here before. This should be one of the more visually stimulating shows ever featured on the Coca-Cola stage.
John Sorrow is the new events chairman for Friends of the Festival, which produces the event. He saw them last year at Sloss Fest in Birmingham, Ala., and predicts fans will be highly entertained.
"It is one amazing stage show," he says.
"You're not going to be able to take your eyes off of it. It's just very unique, and they play some great covers."
Talent & Production Coordinator Joe "Dixie" Fuller says he has been working closely with the band's production and lighting people to make sure the fans get a true Flaming Lips show.
"He's being very accommodating," Fuller says of the band's crew chief, "and so have I. They depend a lot on their effects to present their show."
The Coke Stage's roof height is a few feet shorter than what many other venues have, for example, so both sides have been looking at solutions.
"They will hang their video wall and will decide [today] about their LED lighting thing that they've designed."
A decision will be made today as well about how the band's signature "gerbil ball" will be utilized. Normally lead singer Wayne Coyne enters the giant ball onstage and then walks it out onto the crowd. Since the Coke Stage is a barge on the river, that isn't possible.
"There is a lot more tech to this than people realize," Fuller says. He adds that one of his tasks this week has been to get 12 50-pound tanks of CO2 for the band's confetti cannons."
The band started in Oklahoma City in 1983 and earned a reputation as a fun live act. They started earning greater attention with the release of "She Don't Use Jelly" in 1993 and more still with the album "The Soft Bulletin" in 1999. In 2002, Q Magazine included the Lips on its 50 Bands To See Before you Die list.
With the spectacle that is a Flaming Lips show and the fireworks finale, "there is a lot of buzz" about tonight's show, says Executive Director Chip Baker.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.